U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) 10th Anniversary

SFC Palacios recovered at a WTU at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Maryland from 2006-2008.

SFC David A. Palacios

Injuries

Nerve damage to right leg, blindness in right eye due to shrapnel), traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Location

Fredericksburg, Maryland

“Sometimes I tell kids I’m a pirate,” said Sgt. 1st Class David A. Palacios, who currently serves as an aide to the Command Sergeant Major at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His unrelenting good humor was perhaps a factor in his speedy recovery from injuries sustained in combat in Iraq: shrapnel that damaged much of his right side, including blinding him completely in one eye, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) approached Palacios almost immediately after he entered the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Walter Reed National Medical Center. Palacios never doubted that he wanted to remain in active duty, but he was unsure of how to navigate the Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards (MEP/PEB). Palacios recognizes AW2 and his AW2 Advocate as the link to the resources that kept him in active duty.

Sergeant First Class David Palacios fishing in Alaska

“I try to stay as active as possible,” said SFC Palacios, who participated in a fishing trip in Alaska in 2008.

“AW2 helped me stay in. They spoke with case managers. They made sure I didn’t get lost in some mountain of paperwork. I had a lot of people backing me up,” recalled Palacios of his decision to remain in active duty. “If COAD didn’t work, I am sure that AW2 would have helped me with the transition to civilian life.” Continuation on active duty (COAD) is a special program for Soldiers who want to remain in uniform regardless of the extent of their injuries or time in service.

AW2 involved Palacios’ Family, and his entire support system in his recovery process to ensure he achieved his goal. Palacios is now one of just 245 severely wounded, ill or injured Soldiers who continue to serve on active duty. 

“I didn’t want to throw my experiences away,” said Palacios of his goal to stay in uniform. “I feel responsible to pass on my knowledge to new Soldiers,” he said. “I am more than willing to do it all over again if I have to.”

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